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Smart energy management: key learnings

By Platform
Smart energy meter in public building

On 26 March 2024, the Policy Learning Platform held a webinar on smart energy management for better energy efficiency.

Smart energy management involves monitoring, controlling, and optimisation energy systems and infrastructures through information and communication technologies and data-driven strategies. By integrating sensors, analytics, and, in some cases, automation, smart energy systems collect and analyse real-time data to make informed decisions, reduce waste, and lower costs.

While most currently used practices are focused on individual buildings, smart energy technologies will be core to the creation of the smart grid, and to balancing out demand and supply of intermittent renewables, which will be especially important as we move towards widespread electrification, including in mobility.

This webinar presented a keynote from European Commission DG Energy on the EU Action Plan on Digitalising the Energy System, as well as three good practices from across Europe, as identified in the SET-UP, SUPPORT and DETOCS projects, with co-moderation from Consortium Extremadura Energy Agency, lead partner of the MonitorEE project.

Webinar agenda

The webinar has been designed and moderated by Katharina Krell and Simon Hunkin Thematic Experts for a Greener Europe. 

00:01:03 Introduction to the topic and the Policy Learning Platform by Katharina Krell and Simon Hunkin 

00:08:36 Presentation by Beatriz Rico Sánchez on the MonitorEE project

00:15:28 Presentation by Christiana Marchitelli from the European Commission, DG Energy, on the EU action plan for the digitalisation of the energy system

00:34:35 Q&A: Is there any specific message you would like to pass to our audience concerning the importance of the regions in the EU-wide approach of the digital innovation hubs?

00:37:22 Q&A: Is the digitalisation effort that you are mentioning only focused on electricity or also on gasses and fuels?

00:38:30 Presentation by Johann van Dyke from Smart Energy GB on Smart Metering - Smart Energy GB

00:48:15 Q&A: How do the smart meters communicate with the central energy management system?

00:40:08 Q&A: Did this system face technical or regulatory challenges associated with the deployment of the smart meters?

00:51:12 Presentation by Davor Pinturić from the Croatian Governmental Real Estate Agency on Energy Management System for Public Buildings

01:01:00 Q&A: What technical or implementation challenges have been faced during the adoption and operation of the EMIS system in Croatia?

01:03:05 Q&A: What is your opinion on the feasibility and potential expansion of the EMIS system beyond public buildings, for example, into the private or residential sector in Croatia?

01:05:44 Presentation by Kostas Lygouris from Innveco, Region of Crete, on EcoHotel plus Platform

01:13:18 Q&A: You mentioned that the platform compares the information to other hotels. Does the platform also provide advice or recommendations?

01:14:19 Q&A: Is there any incentive or support provided to the hotels to encourage their participation to the EcoHotel plus platform and to adopt sustainable measures?

Panel discussion

01:18:05 Q&A: Beyond the immediate awareness and behaviour adaptations, are any long-term energy-saving measures implemented in the concerned buildings?

01:22:41 Q&A: Do you see that the smart factor triggers deeper energy-saving investments?

01:23:32 Q&A: Davor, are you planning to develop a guide on how to use public buildings based on the EMIS platform?

01:24:42 Q&A: What are the most important points that we have heard today and what can local and regional authorities do to enhance smart energy management in the buildings in their territories?


Key learnings

From this webinar, we can highlight some key insights for local and regional policymakers:

  • Smart energy management enables users to monitor their energy use, identify areas of improvement, manage their budgets, and ultimately aim to reduce their energy consumption. In this way, it can contribute to improve energy efficiency for households and businesses and result in a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions;
  • More broadly, smart energy refers to the use of ICT to better manage the energy system. Indeed, there is a need to modernise Europe’s energy system to make it ready for increased electrification, including the shift to e-vehicles, and decentralised renewable energy generation by individuals and community groups;
  • At the same, smart technologies will bring benefits for the overall energy system, enabling real-time data to be provided to Distribution and Transmission System Operators (D/TSOs) as well as to utilities and regulators. Smart grids will play a key role in balancing out decentralised and intermittent renewables, and matching supply and demand;
  • Beyond enabling communication between supply and demand, application of smart technologies can enable automated processes such as turning on heating or lighting based on real conditions, or otherwise use appliances when electricity costs are at their lowest;
  • Many countries and regions are exploring the use of smart technologies. In most cases, approaches are focused on pilot and demonstration projects, though there is increased use throughout Europe of smart meters and energy monitoring platforms to collect data on energy use, which will be a first step in building the smart energy system.
  • With these aims and benefits in mind, in October 2022, the European Commission published its Action Plan for Digitalising the Energy System, as part of the EU Strategy for Energy System Integrations, introducing areas for intervention;
  • The Action Plan was built with stakeholders and contains six main blocks on the exchange energy data, fostering better and more co-ordinated investments for the energy grid, empowering consumers to benefit from the energy system; strengthening cyber security, addressing energy consumption of digital technologies, and better co-ordinating between energy and digital actions;
  • Key actions include developing a Common European Data Space, creating a Smart Energy Expert Group, building a digital twin of the European electricity grid; engaging consumers in the use of smart technologies, creating a toolkit for energy communities, crafting cross-sector legislation for cybersecurity, and increasing investments into smart technologies in National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) and the Recovery and Resilience Plans, for national and regional implementation.
  • In the United Kingdom, the Smart Energy GB campaign has overseen the roll-out of smart metres in the country. It was established in 2013 as a centralised campaign, under a not-for-profit organisation. SE-GB has no role in installing smart metres but are the single voice for communicating about their benefit. The organisation works closely with the civil service and industry to achieve policy goals, with a board which is comprised of consumers representatives and energy suppliers. SE-GB also has a role in the national Demand Flexibility Service, working with the National Energy System Operator, and implements research into impacts of future developments in smart energy, such as vehicle-to-grid.
  • The campaign aims to support behaviour change in end-users, with a special focus on vulnerable users, with a dedicated strategy for these groups. Advocates from charities and the third sector participate in the board to ensure their concerns are taken account of, to share their experiences and best practices, and to enable outreach to vulnerable users.
  • The Energy Management Information System of the Croatian Government Real Estate Agency, represents a good practice for public bodies, enabling the monitoring of energy and water consumption across all public sector buildings. The first version of the tool was released in 2008, with its use for all public buildings made mandatory in the Croatian Energy Efficiency Act of 2014, with utilities obliged to send data to the system. All of this data is centralised in a single platform for analysis, with EMIS producing targeted reports for improvements, as well as informing national and local climate and energy plans. EMIS has resulted in a 5% annual reduction in energy and water consumption, and has been transferred to a number of other countries, including Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Hungary.
  • The EcoHotel Plus platform in Greece, created by Innoveco, supports hotels to reduce their energy and carbon footprints by identifying the most energy-intensive areas quickly, and awarding environmental certification. Users input data about their hotel energy consumption into the platform, which will produce detailed reports on the main energy uses, comparing this against occupancy rates,  well as against the performance of other hotels. The certification system, with three levels (energy audit; demonstrated greenhouse gas reductions; carbon emissions offsetting) can be used to demonstrate to consumers that their hotel is eco-friendly – an increasingly important criteria in the sector.
  • Speakers emphasised that when considering the creation of smart energy systems, the consumer and household perspective must always be considered. Conversations can often forget consumers and businesses, the ultimate users for these technologies, who need to be comfortable with them;
  • Different end-users will require different solutions (e.g., households, public sector organisations or others with large real estate portfolios, the private sector), being no more complicated than required for the relevant scale;
  • All of the presenters confirmed a positive correlation between awareness of energy use through the respective smart system and behaviour change leading to reduced energy consumption;
  • Consideration also needs to be taken of vulnerable users who may not be comfortable with digital technologies. Smart Energy GB’s collaboration with charities and social groups points a way forward;
  • Collaboration is key – public authorities need to act as convenors and bring together the different actors involved in the transition, as well as citizens groups, to bring them all onto the same page;
  • Public authorities at all levels will have a role in implementing smart energy technologies, and they should aim to learn from frontrunner regions and see what can be replicated. This can include experience sharing through Interreg Europe projects and the Policy Learning Platform which can offer on-demand expert support through peer reviews and matchmakings.

Download the presentations below.

Energy efficiency
Smart energy systems